Brittney Martin is one of the nation’s most versatile players, but even she couldn’t keep Oklahoma State from a lackluster record in recent weeks.
Rested and rejuvenated, the Cowgirls will try to put that behind in their fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance Friday night against 10th-seeded St. Bonaventure.
Martin has a chance to become the first to lead the Big 12 in scoring, rebounding and steals in a season. She’s also registered double-doubles in 12 of her last 16 games.
Oklahoma State, though, has lost five of its past eight contests and five straight road or neutral site games. The Cowgirls (21-9) were handled 61-43 by No. 24 Oklahoma on March 5 in their Big 12 Tournament opener.
“Obviously, we don’t want the season to end (with the OU performance),” said Martin, averaging 20.3 points, 11.1 rebounds and 2.8 steals. “I just think everyone is really focused and they’re ready to play.”
St. Bonaventure (23-7) had a quick exit in the Atlantic 10 tournament, losing 59-50 to VCU on March 4, and has gone 6-5 since a 16-game win streak. The Bonnies are 1-5 in their last six road or neutral site games after winning six straight, and found themselves on the bubble heading into selection day.
They came away with their second NCAA Tournament berth. St. Bonaventure reached the Sweet 16 in 2012 as a No. 5 seed.
“This is for all the people who have supported us the whole way,” coach Jim Crowley said. “The best part is for our seniors who have worked so hard and done so much for us. I’m so proud of everyone on the team because they put so much work in.”
The Bonnies are led by senior forward Katie Healy, averaging 15.3 points and 7.0 rebounds. They have also relied on a defense that’s giving up 55.5 points per game and 34.8 percent shooting.
The Cowgirls are allowing an average of 57.9 points on 36.0 percent shooting and will try to use that defense to avoid another short stay in the NCAA Tournament. They lost to No. 7 seed Florida Gulf Coast after topping the Eagles in the 2014 opening round en route to the program’s third Sweet 16 appearance.
The Cowgirls are facing St. Bonaventure for the first time since a 68-59 victory in their lone matchup in 1997-98.
The winner of this game will face either No. 2 seed and host Oregon State or No. 15 Troy on Sunday.